Thursday, February 25, 2010

Raspberry and Fig Cake

A few weeks ago, I bought some dried figs for a recipe I wanted to try. 

I should probably have learned by now that if a recipe only calls for four figs, you can probably leave them out. But, of course, I haven't-- so I have been searching for new fig recipes lately.
Last week I stumbled upon a recipe for a "Raspberry-and-Fig Cake" in this month's Food&Wine. The recipe called for fresh figs, but I used dried and soaked ones, since I had them.  I am not so sure I am a fan of figs in my cake --- but man, those raspberries and the hint of lime were good!

So, I give you:
Raspberry and Fig Cake
or just, Raspberry Lime Cake

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Valentine's Dessert, Part 2

Since I am still pretty enamored with the fact that I finally have my own kitchen, I opted to cook for Valentine's Day, rather than have my husband take me out for dinner. Which, considering the plethora of good restaurants in our town, is no easy decision!

Our menu:
Steamed Mussels
Truffle-Butter Pasta
Broiled Asparagus
Mexican Chocolate Pots de Creme

I think we made a good choice.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cinnamon rolls

It's Friday night breakfast for dinner again, and you want cinnamon rolls. You need cinnamon rolls. Seriously, these are about a million times better than every other cinnamon roll I've ever had, except maybe Cinnabon.

First, mix up a little sweet roll dough. Don't worry, all that butter and sugar is canceled out by the flour, I'm pretty sure. After it's risen, roll it out into a nice rectangle.

Then smear it with a little more melted butter and some brown sugar and cinnamon. All that butter and sugar and cinnamon is canceled out by... umm.... all your hard work rolling out the dough!

Roll it up loosely, but don't pinch the seam - you want to allow some room for them to expand.

Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 8 large or 12 small cinnamon rolls. Place them in a greased 9x13" pan, cover and let them rise for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Dessert, Part 1

I remember the first time I had red velvet cake. I was at a neighbor's house. I was probably ten or twelve, old enough at least to know what happened when you added red food coloring to something. I had seen a lot of the pink sugar cookie dough and pink frosted cupcakes, but I had never seen a red cake before. When I asked my neighbor how she made this delightfully red concoction, she pointed to the three empty bottles of red food coloring on her counter.

I, I am proud to say, only used one and a half bottles of red food coloring in my red velvet cake. Or maybe I only made half as much cake...

In either case, these were the perfect Valentine's Day treat for our ladies' movie night this past weekend. What better way to relax and watch a movie than with a glass of wine in one hand, and a cute little cupcake in the other?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blueberry-Raspberry Tart

We needed a dessert for a Sunday potluck after church. So, I sent my husband off to the Cook’s Illustrated website to find a tantalizing dessert. This was too pretty not to make.

Now, if you think it seems a bit odd to be making a berry dessert in the middle of February, you are right. Luckily for me though, I also enjoy gardening--and live in a climate where such fruits thrive. Every year I freeze homegrown fresh blueberries and raspberries for use during the winter. They are easy to freeze--I literally pick them into the freezer containers, put the lids on, and toss them in the freezer. While not nearly as good as fresh berries, they are vastly superior to store-bought frozen berries, which are often mushy and in tiny pieces when you thaw them. But I can’t wait until next summer to try this dish again with fresh berries!

This dessert had an extra savory delight, because the filling was made with browned butter (More on browned butter to come during next month's pasta extravaganza... legend has it was one of the Greek poet Homer’s favorite flavors). The browned butter imparts a unique nutty flavor, and a very rich aroma to this dessert. I may try using browned butter in other similar instances.

And because I never make recipes exactly like they are written, I made a few adaptations. Here's what I came up with:

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Friday night is breakfast for dinner night here at the Jones house. One of my favorites is homemade waffles - they are so easy and about ten times better than the ones from the box!
You'll need two bowls - one for the egg whites (that's what gives them that great texture) and one for everything else. Mix together your dry ingredients, make a well in the center and add the egg yolks, oil, and milk. Blend it together with a hand mixer, then beat the egg whites to a stiff peak.

Fold in those egg whites carefully so you have a nice airy batter.

Pour onto your waffle iron.

Top with fruit and whip cream!

Homemade Waffles

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, whites separated

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, then beat in the milk, oil, and the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the batter. Pour onto hot waffle iron then top with syrup or your favorite fruit and whip cream.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Seafood Chowder

I was in the mood for warm soup and for something new the other night. Something like... Seafood chowder. I had an excellent version of this dish at a restaurant a few months ago, and decided to try to recreate it.
I started with the base. Chowder is a potato-based soup, but the traditional method of boiling the potatoes always seems to leave soups starchy and grainy. I wanted the flavor and thickness a potato-based soup, without the grit. Based on a method we tried a few posts ago, I decided to oven-roast the potatoes. I must have been very hungry when I started, because a lot of other vegetables started sounding good too:
Here is the recipe I came up with:

Saturday, February 6, 2010


After so many posts about vegetables, I thought maybe some chocolate would be in order. And some sugar, and some butter. Because, after all, what would life be without chocolate, sugar, and butter? Especially when they bake up in the form of cookies!

A fair warning: this is not a recipe for your last minute party! While beginning cooks should be able to make this recipe easily--it does take some patience. First you have to hard boil an egg. Then you have to make your dough. Third, you have to refrain from eating your dough while it hardens in the fridge. Halfway through the cooling period, you get to roll it out, and then put it back in the fridge. Next you get to slice and bake your lovely cookies. At this point, you get to eat some of your cookies-- but not the sandwich ones, which get to be iced and then cooled again.

Whew! But after all that work, you have these lovelies all ready for your next dessert or tea party:

P.S. This recipe is far less work if you only make the plain vanilla or chocolate kind. But since when I have ever made just one kind of anything??

Sables are French Butter Cookies, or basically a sandier form of regular butter cookies. The sandy texture makes the cookie melt in your mouth, but it has all the delicious taste of a butter cookie. Sweet, with a slight crunch, and oh-so-addicting!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How I got my husband to eat squash.

I think I've mentioned that my husband will eat anything. Well, almost anything... Squash is, unfortunately, one of the exceptions.

A couple of months ago, we celebrated our town's "Restaurant Week" by dining at one of our favorite restaurants. The soup of the evening was a roasted butternut squash soup with spiced mascarpone, cocoa nib, and a chocolate drizzle. It was exquisite. (If I ever did find a recipe close to it, I'm sure that the ingredients would probably cost more than just ordering it at the restaurant.) My husband wouldn't even try a bite.

I love a good roasted squash, especially on a cold winter day. Unfortunately, I think my husband's main experience with the dish had been in this form:

Yeah, I probably wouldn't eat that either.

(For those of you who like spaghetti squash, I have no doubt that there is a way to make this vegetable taste good. However, I'm pretty sure there is no way to improve the texture.) For those of you like me, here is a better way: